"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Sons of the Pioneers theme for TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon artist's musings melding metaphors and journalism, for readers in more than 150 countries.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Pyle Portrait

That's my Dad, beside the portrait, which was given to Pyle's widow Jerri in Albuquerque. Mrs. Pyle suffered from mental illness, and we think she burned the portrait.

My dad had a wooden leg

My Dad, Terrence Miller Clark, had a wooden leg. He lost it the summer after graduating from Comanche High school, when he tried to jump a freight in Tucumcari. N. M., and slipped.

That's another story, but that's why he didn't serve in WWII along with three of his brothers.

He helped the war effort, working for Consolidated Aircraft in Fort Worth as a draftsman, drawing some of the plans for the B-24 Liberators that would bomb Hitler. And he drew a portrait of Ernie Pyle, the war correspondent, that was auctioned off in Dallas for $1 million in War Bonds. That's another story too.

His last surviving brother, Michael, now lives in Santa Fe. He's an old sea dog...his words to me yesterday on the phone. He was Petty Office Second Class Clark, a signalman who used semaphore flags to send messages between ships. In WWI, he was on a small sub chaser, hunting German U-Boats in the Caribbean. When Korea came along, he was on an LST, landing troops at the Inchon landing. You can't believe the number of stories he can tell.

Uncle Rex T. Clark enlisted in the Army and was stationed in England in the medical corps. He was commissioned, and General Ike pinned his bars on. Uncle Champ Clark, the baby of the family, was stationed in the cold Aleutians, guarding us against the Japanese. I have the letter Champ wrote Dad when he heard over the radio that Dad's portrait had brought %1 million. More stories.

My granddad, Erle Thweatt Clark, served in the Spanish American War.
My great-great granddad Batte Peterson Clark, served with the U.S. Army in the Mexican War in an Alabama unit, and later with the Confederate State's Army in a Texas unit defending the homeland. More stories. Have you been to Vicksburg and seen the National Cemetery and the Confederate Cemetery?

Some of this last information comes from T/Sgt. Vance C. Clark, USAF, who has survived a stint in Baghdad, and is the first grandson of Terrence Miller Clark.
Sgt. Clark digs into family history like his granddad did.

To all of our kinfolk, and to all those who have served, and are serving...on this Memorial Day, don't let the stories die, and let's snap a salute!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Vampire Thesis...an Okie Ramble

What does a vampire need to stay "alive"? New blood, fresh blood. Trite? Corny? Maybe, but true.

I suppose some finance or philosophy guru probably has already "formulated" this theory, but it has become increasingly clear to me in the last few months and weeks, that every organization, every institution, every human, needs new blood to survive.
I'd call it the Vampire Thesis.

What happens when new blood isn't available? We get in ruts, and ruts are just open-ended graves. That's why universities hiring staff and faculty from within never challenge or discover new thoughts. That's why people who have lived in towns and cities and states for long periods of time can't see the flaws and needs. That's why governments that only use "insiders" rarely have new ways of thinking. That's why the Okie legislature went berserk over The flaming Lips.

My friend Joyce Carney of The Eakley Country Connection newspaper has an apt metaphor. They used to raise rabbits, and when too much inbreeding occurred, the offspring couldn't hold both ears erect. "They're lop-eared," she say, referring to hide-bound people who avoided all change.

Visiting the Paseo Arts Festival today is just the latest evidence. I go there for rejuvenation, for inspiration, for ideas on what i could paint. That's why reading the NY Times on Sunday is so important...it forces new thoughts. That's why meeting new people, renewing old friendships, attending new classes, reading new books, traveling to new places are so essential to creative survival...new blood. "Travel thickens," said Will Rogers.

John Stuart Mill in On Liberty applied this to the free marketplace of ideas, urging freedom of criticism for all ideas...If ideas are not challenged, they become prejudices and dry and stale and ineffective.

That's why no student should have only one teacher...we all need new blood. That's why married couples need to fine new discoveries together, to keep boredom at bay, to stay out of a rut. That's why businesses and universities and college departments need new people, new generations. No matter how hard we try, we become creatures of habit, living in a comfort zone that is hard to break out of, and new blood forces us to consider other possibilities.

New blood is coming to the UCO department of mass communication. We had a huge infusion four years ago when Journalism and Communication combined. We didn't even see that benefit ahead of time. Since then, the department has grown "quantitatively and qualitatively," as the academics put it. Now there will be a new chair and assistant chair, and we have younger faculty members coming in from different disciplines who see things differently, who think differently, who have more energy. Where is it going? I don't know...and that's good.

I'll admit, much of this scree is prompted by packing up stuff for the move to a new office. Books and stuff and memories are being boxed up. Some stuff is going in the trash bin. Some stuff is coming home to the garage, and everything will be rearranged...new bookshelves, new office layout, new arrangements on the walls, a new sign on the door. People keep asking me how I'm doing. I obviously have a lot of uncertainty, and moving can be sad. The change will be hard in several ways because I will be out of a 19-year rut...and it had become a rut. But the answer is, so far, I'm fine. I'm being forced to rethink who I am and what I do. I'm going to have more time for creativity, and less time on meetings and paperwork. So instead of being depressed, I'm being challenged, I'm getting an infusion of new blood just by moving, just by being a professor. I never thought of myself as a change-agent, a catalyst, but I've gradually become one. Lots of people don't like change, can't handle it, but have to go through it anyway. I've grown to like change, but I've witnessed a lot of it in other people and organizations. Now it's my turn.

I know, I know, vampires are parasites. We're not, but we still feed off friends and colleagues and thrive on new blood.

Ursa th' professa'

Thursday, May 21, 2009


My title--up against the wall with three real friends...Roz Miller, Terry Clark, Mark Hanebutt and Sherry Sump lining up for a photo when Mass Comm bought me lunch at Alvarados after the last faculty meeting as chair this spring, spring 2009... As the touchy-feeling communication people in the department would tell you...non-verbals speak loudly. Photo by Susan Clark

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cat flu pandemic

Have you considered all the bacteria cats bring into the house?

Sleeping on the end of the bed. Shedding all over the house. Using the kitty litter box. The odor from the box. Throwing up the food they don’t like. Gagging on hairballs. Rubbing their backs on the carpet and the furniture. Climbing on the cabinets, with feet that have been in the litter box. Sniffing the food with their dirty noses. Sneezing into the kitchen air. Sitting over the heat or air conditioner vents, propelling their germs into the air. Rubbing up against you with those whiskers that have been, well, you don’t want to know. Licking you with that tongue that has, well, don’t think about it….

I think it’s just a matter of time before a new flu pandemic breaks out, transmitted from cats to people.

A cat flu pandemic.

As a scientist, I’d label the virus the KITTYACHOO virus.

I consider this to be the real health threat to world-wide disaster. It’s happened before. Proof? Consider the ancient Egyptians. They made cats gods, and look what happened to them. They had to build pyramids to get away from them, but it was too late. Extinct.

No wonder dogs bark at cats. They’re trying to warn us.

I mentioned this danger to our cats. The cats? Well, right now, they’re sleeping on it.

Monday, May 18, 2009

I must be a conservative!

A manifesto...

The scars on the mountains cut deep into their flanks, encircling them like dirty clothes lines.
Only a few scattered pines and firs remain with ground open and eroding to the rain and snow. It could be in eastern Oklahoma, or Montana, California or any other western state.
On the wall in a local restaurant hangs a sign: “Timber pays our bills. Clear cut the environmentalists.”
Yet they’re cutting down my forest, your forest. Land owned by the taxpayers—the citizens of the U.S.-- is being looted for private profit by the timber and mining and oil companies, thanks to the BLM—the Bureau of Looting and Mining.
That’s why I must be a conservative. I believe in conserving resources and life—the forests, the wilderness areas, the wildlife, the environment, and ultimately, us. If we don’t we’ll become extinct, because global warming is real in spite of what the so-called conservatives owned by the oil companies say with their money full of diesel dirty money.
I must be a conservative, because liberal friends who are supposed to be open-minded get angry at my articles against abortion, about Billy Graham, or Mel Gibson and Easter. I must be a conservative.
I must be a conservative, because I favor government controlled by the Constitution, insuring my individual rights—not rights sold out by an oligarchy—a government of the rich few—politicians bought by big money corporations intent on milking citizens of every right and dollar.
I must be a conservative, because I believe in a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility, not giving it away in pork barrel projects, tax cuts for the rich and huge deficit spending. I’m obviously much more conservative than the previous president.
I must be a conservative because I believe in the principles of Barry Goldwater—a conservative with a conscience.
I must be a conservative because I believe in a strong defense for our country so no other country can meddle with our rights or invade us. I believe in the rule of law—including the Geneva Convention—which means we respect the rights of other countries and don’t meddle with or invade them.
I must be a conservative because I believe in the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, for all people in this country. I’m obviously more conservative than the big government tyrants who used the “Patriot Act” to subvert our liberties.
I must be a conservative because I own a rifle and a handgun, but I’m not stupid enough to think the Constitution means we could own automatic weapons. If you’re very conservative, the Constitution links gun ownership with belonging to the militia—the national guard.
I must be a conservative because I believe in conserving public education for all American children. Even the great Ohio conservative Bob Taft knew it was our greatest hope to fulfill that now conservative, but 1775-liberal Tom Jefferson’s dream of a free America.
I must be a conservative, and that means I believe in the Constitution’s Preamble about the general welfare—the government caring for the elderly and poor and sick.
Hearing all this, some of you think, “This guy’s a liberal.”
What do you mean? The words “conservative” and “liberal” are so overused and abused, especially in this campaign year and especially in Oklahoma, that they’re only labels—propaganda devices. Politicians who use them are much more interested in politics and profit than principles.
Labels are nothing but words use to keep you and me from thinking and most politicians who use them don’t even think about their meanings, nor do they want you to think.
My bet is that their use of “conservative” and liberal” is just labeling designed to get a knee jerk reaction from you, showing their contempt for your intelligence.
Conservative, according to that most conservative dictionary, the Oxford English definition, means “Characterized by a tendency to preserve or keep intact…,” so I must be a conservative.
Just don’t pigeonhole me with the label.

Ursa th' professa'

Sunday, May 17, 2009


Sundays are New York Times days, sitting on back patio with the Sunday Times, coffee, a journal, listening to the chickadees and titmice and cardinals in the sanctuary of our back yard. Bright sun through dappled leaves. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, plus oregano and mint and more coming for from under the mulch after winter. Time to reflect on passing time, thumbing through pages of newsprint, finding ideas, stories, lives, words, words that matter.
First the main news section and then the Week in Review, then business, styles, arts, travel....travel to the land of thinking.
Reading, thinking makes you want to to write, to paint, to create. Tomorrow, or in a few days (there is something comfortable in seeing scattered stack of newspapers on the couch or chair), most of the newsprint will go into the trash, except for the saved stories, for the chess column. Sure they're online, but that's not the same.
"Clippings" is such a wonderful word. Headlines and news items and feature stories and photographs and names, carefully torn or snipped from the pages, for one reason or another, and put into a special place..
I think all journalists have a sloppy clipping file...of story ideas, of special sentences, or words that matter. Of things you wish you'd written, or want to write someday.
It's not the same as storing an idea in a folder on a computer. In the first place, most journalists have no use for folders...we use stacks, of notes, of phone numbers, of papers, of the scrambled eggs of daily life...and they pile up on our desk or beside the bed. No matter that we may never get to them again, or have to clear them out after a few months. Some go into envelopes or stacks in the bottoms of cluttered drawers. There's a comfort, a kinship, a sense of belonging with clippings. When you come back across them, even if they've yellowed and turned brittle, or torn, they're fresh memories of certain people and events and lives and ideas...
like favorite books read again, or old friends met again after a long time...they're not acquisitions, but part of my who I am, like old photos, and personal cards. Like memories, but tangible, real.

Ursa th' pr'fessa

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Up the creek with a paddle

Actually, the North Canadian...See, I'm used to moving...but usually downstream.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Grains of Sand

Moving, Interlude

My students
flow through my life
like the grains of sand
along the north bank
of the Red River.

Swept by the current,
the grains are sculpted
into sand bars
or drifts snagged
against old trees.
The muddy water
submerges most
of the sand,
or dissolves it,
carrying it downstream.
But in the sand bars
on the north bank,
the sun glistens off
the crystals in individual grains.
The students attract attention,
and bring vivid
relief and color
to a monochrome prairie.
The sparkling grains
stand out like memories,
before time carries
them down river.
I must go there soon
before the river rises again.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Aging coffee cups

A chapter in moving

A cracked coffee mug from the Nome, Alaska, Nugget newspaper...I put it gently in the corner of one of the boxes I'm packing. It was given to me years ago by a student who interned there, at the edge of the continent, with Russia literally in sight.
Another cup is from Oxford university , a gift from a faculty member who says, "UCO and Oxford have somethings in common...we have buildings." There are other cups, gifts from graduating students over the past years, some with my name on them, some with other decorations, all in appreciation. Most of the cups are filled with memories of those students. An antique "Clark's Coffee" tin can sits on my shelf, a gift from another student, now an Oklahoma City teacher. Her fading note occupies the can, instead of grounds. A couple of antique coffee pots and a coffee grinder join the collection,
Other gifts and trinkets and memories go into the boxes as I pack to move from one office to another. There are photos of my kids, and grandkids, of former students winning awards, of photographs of some of tthem with their signatures, of photos and gifts from those students, of faculty friends and parties, of me in Halloween costumes.
An antique bottle holds some "holy dirt" from The Santuario de Chimayo in New Mexico. There's a piece of the chalk cliffs of Dover, some pieces of lava I've picked up, an antique dipper, an old powder horn with my name on it. All carry memories of miles traveled, people met.
Another box takes awards from the Oklahoma Press Association, the Journalism Hall of Fame, and others, including an FFA Honorary Farmer. In that box goes my Grizzly Gasoline sign, my Texas brick, my original metal Studebaker car logo, an antique dipper. Other gifts from faculty, like a model canoe, replicas of old cameras, a furry wolf cub toy, replica medieval chess pieces...all these follow. They're really just trinkets from over the years, meaningless to most, but part of who I am and who I have been.
I'm supposed to be packing the books on my shelves. I don't put books on my shelves to impress people, but ones I've read, one's that inspire me, gifts from special people, ones I use in my teaching, or intend to use some day. There's a copy of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, my favorite book, a gift from a favorite student; Harry Heath's history of the OSU J-School; a dear friend's book on sailing in Alaska; a Will Rogers book; several of Ed Abbey and John McPhee. These and others go in boxes, fitted one way and another--like the years--making them fit.
There are few textbooks, but books about writing--other with good writing, about photography, about editing, about leadership, about newspapers and media, and old typographer's manuals, and history. Journalists don't have much use for textbooks...Words and experiences are the textbooks we want our students to read.
The floor beings to fill up, one box stacked on top of another--the weight of words....

Ursa th' professa

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Spring flowers on a grave

As I plant fresh purple petunias on mom's grave,
traffic on U.S. 70 speeds by as fast as the years.
Distant hills fade into gray in the falling mist
but the steady wind still dries the washed headstone
until only the chiseled letters of her name hold water.
On my way home, nine vultures wheel in the sky
over something that died along the wildflower-speckled roadside.
The flowers will soon wither and die.
Memories remain.

Friday, May 8, 2009


This is the third office move in 20 years! Four years ago, I moved across the office suite to a bigger office, when we merged the departments. No big deal. Got me out of my comfort zone, and that's good.

20 years ago, I packed my office at OSU after four years teaching there, and that was depressing, once it became almost vacant of my stuff.

This move isn't depressing, but interesting from a detached journalistic view, after 19 years in the same southwest corner upstairs in the Communications Building at UCO. I don't officially move till July 31, and I'll keep my phone number, but there are some complicated emotions running deep. We'll see how they progress. I've heard that in terms of stress, moving ranks about number three after the death of a loved one and divorce. I do intend to be moved by sometime in June, so the the department and new chair Dr. Roz Miller can make other changes to get ready for fall.

changing offices, changing years, preface

I'm packing boxes for my office move. So much junk, so many books, so many photos, so many memories. I remember when I went to OSU to teach , Harry Heath had this closet sized office where they let him keep his lifetime of work. You couldn't see the floor, but I wondered how anyone could accumulate so much stuff and why it was valuable. Now I know...it's called age and miles. I can see my floor, but...

More coming about the different piles and books and photos and stuff...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Onion Buys NY Times

The Onion has ceased publication in LA and SF! No joke. Still alive in NY and where else? Switching more to online: can't sell ads. This smells. One of the few sources of satire and fun left in this all-to-serious world is much needed.

Thankfully, we still have The Daily Show and Cobert Report, but the Onion is an institution. it teaches you how to write humor, how to look at the world freshly, how to have fun.

Anyway you slice this, this has appeal for more comment.

Consider some potential Onion Headlines we'll miss:

Okie Legislature Passes Law Banning Thinking
Rednecks Demand Statue at State Capitol
Edmond Developers to Pave Over Hafer Park
OKC Thunder Won't Play if It's Lightning
Edmond Outlaws Democrats
Rush Suffocates on His Ego
Cheney Tells Therapist, 'I've always played with puppets'
Exclusive Interview: God says his real name is 'Allah'
Boren Fires Stoops, Says He Wants Coach Who Can Win a Bowl Game
Stoops Says He Couldn't Live on $250,000+ a Month Anyway
OSU Student Fails Because He Couldn't Spell "Aggie"
Obama Names Clark Ambassador to Oklahoma

You get the idea? Got any?

ursa tha' professa

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


"How are you going to monetize it?" asked an OU journalism professor about a year ago when we attended a session on what The Oklhaoman was doing on line, etc.

Thought I to myself, "Self, now there's an academic word that doesn't fit in my culture. Too long in the newsroom, too long reading newspapers, too long thinking journalism is more than a business, too long thinking words matter.

"No self-respecting journalist would ever use the word "monetize," saidize Self.

Can you imagine the old city editor's scowl and cussing when you used that word in a news story? I've been chewed out before, but never approached the scene I can visualize if I'd used that word. You'd be ridiculedized out of the newsroom.

"What the hell does this mean Clark? Write in English, not like some over-educated college professor who has never had anything published except in journals that nobody reads."

Alas, sometime this year, a reporter for the New York Times was writing about the turmoil in the newspaper business, and he used the word "monitize." No wonder newspapers are failing, thoughtIze.

Then I start this blog, and at the top is a tab, "monetize."

What's wrong with "financing," "making money," "Selling ads," etc?

Yesterday Warren Buffett said he would never invest in newspapers, because they're big money losers. We all understood him, and he never used the term "monetize," or "under-monetize," or "negatively monetize." Sounds like educationalese or PR talk to me, or some car salesman trying to cover the fine print.

Monetize, smonetize.
Why don't we journalize and finalize wordizing to endize academicizing failizing?
Let's banize all Anglo-Saxon words. Think how loftizing it would be to "fartize," to editize copy, to writize news, to creatize new words, to obscurize our thoughtizing.

You should readize Orwell's "Politics and the English Language" essay for more verbizing to help us Orwellize our demisizing as journalists. The only journalist I knowize who can legitimately usize this is former OSU student Richard Mize, now at The Oklahoman as real estate editor, where he does his best to redneckize the rest of us.

Monetize? Here's to ruinizing the language.

Ursa tha professa

Monday, May 4, 2009

From a Rooftop in Mali

Two years ago:

A letter from America,

From a rooftop in Mali, this is Terry Clark reporting….
I visited this West African country in March with a group from Oklahoma State, supposedly to help develop the media in this stable, 90 percent Muslim, democracy.
I think we did that, but I learned far more than I ever tried to teach.
Yes, I did sit on a rooftop and receive the gift of a lifetime from our guide and interpreter—a communal meal on a pallet with live African music as the sun went down in the dusty sky.
I made my first venture into broadcast journalism, using a video camera to record sights and sounds and people. I used a digital SLR and a point-and-shoot to capture some unbelievable images and memories. I kept a daily journal, by hand, that numbers almost 100 pages for 10 days.
I came back proud to be a journalist in the real sense of the word--keeping a daily journal and discovering much about journalism and freedom and a special people.
And I learned that Mali’s media can teach American media many things that we’ve pretty much lost.
For the record, Mali is immensely poor and dirty. Literacy is only about 30 percent. Lifespan averages 48 years. It is either Sahara or Saheil—sub-Sahara—a dry land where 11 million people eke out a living in a country twice the size of Texas. Half the population is under 14, and intestinal diseases and malaria kill half the children.
But I saw happy people, I saw people wearing bright-colored clothes, I saw people who had nothing and yet had everything. I didn’t see malnutrition—many eat fresh vegetables and fruit every day, though many have only a porridge called Toh. I saw no lazy people—people who work harder than we imagine, and who still smile and laugh and play and love family—people who have hope. I saw imaginative people who create paintings, and sculpture and jewelry and carvings and fantastically colored dyed cloth. I saw people who like Americans, and people who remember living under a dictatorship 16 years ago, and who treasure freedom.
I saw people where the term “no sweat” has probably never been heard—When we were there, the daytime temperature hovered around 100 degrees, and dust hung in the air. But the hot season hadn’t arrived. April and May will set in and the temp will rise to over 110. Rain won’t come until June when the cotton and other crops can be planted.
The people are very suspicious of concentrated power, just like Americans were when we gained freedom from the British.. As a result, they’re committed to decentralization and have set up a true federal system—like we used to have. Asked if they got together on national holidays to sing songs march and so forth, and they responded that they wouldn’t tolerate mandatory group activities. I wondered what they’d think of our “Pledge of Allegiance” in schools. The main native language, Bambara, actually means “I refuse submission.” The people are literally “jealous” of their freedom.
That’s only a portion of what I saw and experienced and tasted.
Now some notes from my journal on the media.
The main media in Mali is FM radio, because of the illiteracy. In their federal system they’ve split the country into more than 200 communes (don’t think Communist—it’s a French word—the official language in this former colony—for community). Each commune is allotted three radio stations, and most of them, with only about 40 or 50-kilometer ranges, devote most of the programming to educational material on health, disease, agriculture, women’s issues, etc. In all media there’s almost no advertising. I’ve though advertising was essential to a free press. Not so. Our adverting for the most part seeks brand recognition and tries to create a need. In Mali, there is need everywhere. Accordingly, most media are run on shoestrings, and pay is low.
But all media have clear purpose. At one radio station, the passionate female owner said, “The antenna is our weapon. We are the voice of the voiceless.” Asked if they play music—and many do—one journalist told us, “When all Malians have enough to eat, then we’ll play music.”
In fact, the radios and newspapers remind me of what community newspapers were 100 years ago in this country—multiple voices, lower circulations, depending on subscribers and local support for existence. Most newspapers—using the French official title in this former colony—have relatively low circulation because of illiteracy and costs.. The largest I heard of was 17,000 in the capital Bamako, population approaching 2 million.
But everywhere we visited, we found passion for journalism and its role, including the national TV station.
For instance, one newspaper is named for the date –March 26, 1991--of the overthrow of the dictatorship, 26MARS. It put out a special edition the week we were there, dedicated to keeping the freedom and the memory of dictatorship alive. The special edition commemorated those who died in the revolution 16 years ago, with photos of some of the martyrs, was hand-delivered to me after we visited with the owner. The country lowers the flag to half staff to remember the martyrs, and the people treasure their freedom. Journalists, especially with the radio stations and the newspapers, repeatedly referred to the revolution, and it fills them with a purpose to serve the people and maintain freedom.
Mali’s constitution guarantees freedom of opinion and expression, “with respect to law.” But there is a very strict libel law. We asked several journalists if they’d been harassed or put in jail, and the response was often, “Of course.” While uncommon, it happens and they view that as part of their job.
Ask them their purpose and they’ll say it is to help the people of the country and maintain their freedom. Note in my journal after one such visit:
“The media have a passion and purpose for what journalism is supposed to be. In America, the purpose of most media seems to be to make money and satisfy stockholders. It’s not an accident that we refer to our media as “markets.” Theirs are “voices.”
Over and over again, we heard that the biggest need of journalism was more training. Interesting note: They linked more training for journalists to increasing journalism ethics. They also attributed declining newspaper circulation to a lack of ethics and people losing respect for journalism . One said that if we expected people to respect our ethics, we had to make sure understood what we cover and why.
“America, are you listening?” I wrote.
I have guarded against trying to glamorize or romanticize this country and people. There are so many problems and faults. But getting past those, these people, their rich culture and their media inspire with passion and example and hard work. This short report doesn’t even begin to address the issues and lessons, from a rooftop in Mali to a computer in Oklahoma.
If you’d like to view my reactions and reports in more depth, and some of my colleagues’, while we were there, go to the following blog:: nurturingthe4thestate.blogspot.com.
Vive Mali!

The value of news

From my April column in the Oklahoma Publisher"

All journalists want their work to matter, and we tell ourselves that it does, that we make a difference. Every once in a while, something happens that puts everything we value in perspective, and also underlines why newspapers are so important.

Such an event filled our lives the first week of April. I received a phone call on Saturday April 4 from my colleague and friend Dr. Keith Swezey, who teaches broadcasting at UCO. His beautiful 20 year-old daughter had been killed in a car wreck about 2 a.m. Saturday. Every parent’s nightmare had become real for Keith and his wife Dixie. I was too shocked to ask for details, but started calling the rest of my colleagues to spread the terrible news.

Then I went online, everywhere, trying to find details. Nothing. I so wanted to get the information, because somehow that would help us all. The facts started trickling in. AP had a story. The Norman Transcript did. Our broadcast students put together a story for their Monday newscast, and I asked the anchor, Alicia Raymond to write the obit for The Vista. She told me that was the hardest writing she’d ever done. She was one of the greeters at the Journalism Hall of Fame the day before the death. The O’Colly in Stillwater had a strong story. (Erin Swezey was a sophomore there, a member of the OSU choral).

The mood in our department was morose. We’d sit in our offices or in groups, and silence would reign. Nothing else mattered. Diana Baldwin of The Oklahoman came out and wrote a feature about our students wearing blue ribbons for Erin and Keith and family. The funeral at the Quail Springs Baptist church on Wednesday packed the house. Erin was a real Christian, a tribute to her family and their values and parenting. It was all I could do to sit there before the funeral and watch the projected photos of a baby girl growing up over the past short 20 years into a beautiful woman.

I’ve long known the value of newspapers, but this tragedy brought it home to me with power. All of us craved facts, craved being able to find out what happened, because we needed to try to make sense of it, because we needed to connect, because we wanted to know. I do know there are times when words don’t work, when you try to say or write something to people who have suffered tremendous loss. But words in print about those events are incredibly important.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Amid all the hoopla about the future of journalism,, one of the best tv programs, especially in regard to international journalism, is the program IFC...on cox channel 207 here in Okiehoma. Great commentary, right now, on the Russian invasion of Georgia (No, George Bush, that's not the state of Georgia, no need to send troops to Atlanta). Check it out soon.

This still applies in Okiehoma, with our retardo state senate and theFlaming sLips controversy...just because he wore a hammer and sycle tshirt. Russian communism is almost 2 decades extinct. But today, American national media are weak, except for the NY Times and WS Journal. Others are slaves to infotainment.

Journalism is stronger elsewhere in the world...what does that say about the weakness of our freedoms?

Ursa tha professa

May 3.

The death of journalism? Or new life? Who knows...having conducted my last faculty meeting Friday in 19 years as chair, I show a pix of me at with faculty in fall 1990...now I'm old "seasoned" as they say). We viewed Did you Know from You Tube, and a section from TED on creativity. Our meetings, curse them all, are always about red tape and paperwork and regulations and policies, and never about what we're supposed to do best...teaching. The highlights of my career...my students and friends. Great article about me in last issue of Vista by Kory Oswald....look it up at Vista online. His descirption of me is dead on. "Clark looks like he could be your grandfather, or drinking buddy, or both." I'll drink to that.

Sunday is church with the New York Times. sitting on a leather couch with Crystal the cat in my lap, reading, sipping coffee, eating oatmeal, watching the rain come down outside. and facebook with friends like Farsooth Razak in NYC, or listing to Richard Mize's redneck rantings.

Aug. 1 I will be out as chair, and heading for just teaching, and running Journalism Hall of Fame, and watercolor painting, and writing and research....long suppressed by the red tape of administrative duties.

I'm keeping a journal of "The last Time" of this year, the last time I'll do a schedule, I'll attend meetings, etc.

None of this may seem interesting, unless you're itnerested in the insides of higher education, yet, but I assure you it will.

I ceased my Coffee with Clark radio program years ago, but this is the successor....It'll be worth your reading please.

So this is all off the cuff...let me hear from you.

Ursa the professa